The not-yet-built Edgewood Elementary School on Charleston's West Side has a new principal.
Pam Gould, currently the principal at Watts Elementary, was selected to lead the new school. She will oversee development of a novel new model for teaching and a completely new curriculum at a school that will cater to some of the county's most high-risk students.
Kanawha school board members approved Gould's appointment to that post last week. Henry Nearman, principal at J.E. Robins Elementary, was originally hired for the position but decided last month instead to take over as principal at Ruffner, another Charleston elementary school.
The new Edgewood Elementary, a little less than a mile off Wood Road on the West Side, will consolidate two low-performing schools - Watts and Robins.
Robins has failed to meet federally mandated performance benchmarks based on standardized test scores for two years in a row now. Watts hasn't met those benchmarks since 2008.
In addition to an administrator's typical duties, Gould will oversee a staff still unfamiliar with teaching a new curriculum.
"Not only that, but opening a new school and combining two schools is a big job," said school board President Pete Thaw. "But we have confidence in her to do it well."
The new school, which is currently under construction for $22 million, is being billed as a "school of the future."
It's also part of a pilot project on Charleston's West Side. The project has been in the works for months and was approved by the state Legislature earlier this year. It calls for several reforms at four West Side schools: Grandview and Mary C. Snow elementaries, Stonewall Jackson Middle School and the new Edgewood School.
Officials hope they can improve performance at those schools by tweaking teaching methods and allowing exemptions from some regulations that govern most schools.
Proposed reforms include everything from a year-round calendar and school uniforms to stiffer punishments for tardiness.
The new Edgewood school will implement a "blended learning" style. Officials hope to use technology and face-to-face instruction in tandem and create more overlap between subjects, with a lot of hands-on opportunities for students.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.